- Photo: Brett Sayles via Pexels

Photo: Brett Sayles via Pexels

The true impact of COVID-19 will not be measured in numbers, but rather in the moments that were lost, like losing someone and not being there to say good-bye. This pandemic has stolen that for many families, as somber good-byes at gatherings like funerals have been impossible in the time of social distancing. And in that time, it might be some comfort that trailers might give those wanting to say good-bye a little more time to make that happen.

In cities like New York City and Detroit, hospitals are using refrigerated trailers to inter those that have passed due to the coronavirus pandemic. For some it give them more time to possibly plan some sort of funeral or memorial service. For others it gives them a sense of responsibility. Enter Tanisha Brunson-Malone, a forensic technician at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

After the pandemic struck and started overwhelming hospitals in New York City and surrounding areas, hospital staff began using trailers to store their dead. Entry to these trailers is heavily restricted, allowing in only certain hospital personnel to enter them. Families are not even allowed to go inside to see loved ones, which is why Brunson-Malone began leaving yellow daffodils on each body, because, as she put it, it is “the right thing to do.”

This unfortunate need for more interment space has even pushed some manufacturers to adjust their production schedules. Acela Truck Company, a manufacturer of fire and rescue trucks, was recently tasked by some federal agencies to produce 200 mass fatality portable morgue trailers over the next several months.

And while some cities are doing their part to be better prepared for the current and possible upcoming waves of COVID-19 infection and its varying outcomes, some are learning from other mistakes, like a funeral home in Brooklyn that became overwhelmed and stored their dead in a non-refrigerated U-Haul rental and a tractor-trailer. It is both easy and difficult to fault them. Who could have ever expected something like this to hit out country so quickly and in such a vicious and unrelenting manner?

All you need to do is perform a simple Google search to find cities around the country are experiencing similar issues and are looking to local, state and federal agencies to help secure these “mobile morgues,” as some have nicknamed them. It is a bandage on bigger issue, but one that we will need to fix before we see a flattening of the curve and a return to a new normal. Hopefully, for some families, these trailers will give them extra time to plan a proper good-bye for their loved ones.


Stephane Babcock

Stephane works on Heavy Duty Trucking. He has an interest in alternative fuels, fleet safety, and engine technologies.

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Stephane works on Heavy Duty Trucking. He has an interest in alternative fuels, fleet safety, and engine technologies.

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